Paella is the age old Spanish comfort food and now we know where we can find the best of the best. On the 14th of September, the search for the world’s best paella chef begins. The 54th International Paella Championships are to be held in Sueca in Spain, the birthplace of paella.
With so many chefs from around the world competing, we had to send over some of our own for a chance at taking the crown. Sydney based Spanish catering company, Flavours of Spain, held a competition in May to determine who would compete for Australia. The winners from first to third place were chef Hassan M’Souli of Sydney’s Out of Africa, chef Failino Lattarulo from Simply Spanish restaurant in Melbourne, and Alex Fry from Sah Modern Mediterranean restaurant in Adelaide. Leading the team is Flavours of Spain founder and Australian Paella Ambassador for Wikipaella.org, Miguel Cuevas.
All this excitement had us wondering, what is the trick to making the world’s best paella? Miguel gave me some tips on how to cook an authentic paella. He says he has cooked hundreds, if not thousands, of paellas, so I think we can trust him.
According to Miguel, the traditional way of cooking with simple ingredients makes the best flavour. But the ingredients have to be of top quality. He suggests spending “good money” on ingredients from local suppliers.
[quote]My family have been using the same rice of the Bomba variety and same extra virgin olive oil Carbonell for many decades. This is because they are healthy and combine very well with the other ingredients in the paella. This particular rice absorbs more stock thus makes it more flavoursome and this oil is light and not heavy and balances well with the ingredients.[/quote]
Having a good stock is also essential. “A few prawn heads, monk fish bones, little carrot, little celery, 2 bay leaves, small onion and a garlic clove, and you have the best fish stock on earth,” said Miguel.
I asked Miguel to let us in on his secret to making a great paella: “I make each and every paella as if I was going to eat it myself.”
But if you don’t get it quite right the first time round, don’t worry too much. According to Miguel, it took Valenicians over a century to get it right.
Photos sourced from Latin PR.
- 400 g Sueca rice
- 800 g chicken
- 400 g rabbit
- 1 docena de “vaquetes” (snails)
- 400 g de valencian white bean
- 150 g de tavella
- 300 g Green beans
- Olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, peeled & chopped
- 1 ripe tomato, grinded
- 1 spoon paprika pepper
- Saffron threads, salt, rosemary stick (optional)
- Chop in regular pieces the chicken and the rabbit. Add salt.
- Heat the olive oil in the paella pan, fry lightly and add the meat pieces.
- Once the meat is lightly fried, add the vegetables and lightly fry.
- Add the garlic, the paprika pepper and the tomato.
- Add 2 litres of water and the snails.
- Let it cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the saffron threads and distribute the rice along the paella pan.
- Let it cook at high temperature for 10 minutes, up to the “socarrat” burning point.